‘Doubters’… We read their stories in the Bible and, if we’re honest, they make us feel better about our own faith. But that’s only the case because of two things – 1)we don’t, or won’t, recognize our own doubts and lack of faith, and 2)we don’t fully understand their stories. Let’s take a look at some famous ‘doubters’ and why their faith was greater than ours is.
When Gideon was first called (Judges 6:11:24), he asked for an outright sign that it was truly the LORD calling him. His sign was that the angel who had appeared to him would not leave until Gideon returned with an offering. Upon returning with unleavened bread and goat soup (ewww!), he receives his confirmation that it was, indeed, an angel of the LORD who had appeared to him.
It can be easy to see this as nothing more than a story about a man who doubted his calling. But look closer… Gideon never doubted his calling. He simply wanted to make sure that it was actually God who was calling him and not some other, false spirit. Gideon obeyed the angel’s instructions perfectly, and had enough knowledge and faith in God and His power to be in fear for his life when he realized who he was talking to.
– Do you and I have the same healthy respect for God’s holiness and power that Gideon did? My guess is no.
Later, God called Gideon to take Israel’s army and defeat the armies of Midian, Amalek, and the people of the east. Gideon famously tested God twice here, asking first that his fleece be wet with dew, but not the ground around it, then that the ground be wet with dew, but not the fleece.
It’s easy again to only see a doubter testing God in this story. But look at the context… Gideon had already summoned Israel’s army to the battle. And after the second fleece-incident, Judges 7 says that Gideon and his army got up early and went out to the fight. Not only that, but God pared down their army from 32,000 to 300. And guess what? Gideon went along with it all, trusting God to provide the victory.
– Even after getting signs like Gideon got with his fleece, would you or I stand by faithfully as our army of 32,000 shrunk to 300? And would we faithfully attack a much larger, fiercer army with only 300 people? My guess is, again, no.
So let’s stop looking down our faith-noses at Gideon. He didn’t doubt God’s existence (like we sometimes do), or God’s power (like we sometimes do), or God’s plan (like we often do). He simply wanted confirmation that it was actually God speaking to him. And once he got that confirmation, Gideon went out and did mind-boggling deeds in God’s name. Sounds more like ‘hero of the faith’ than ‘doubter’ to me…